Nottingham: it’s like Leeds. Just without the quintessential Yorkshire pride (bearing instead the muddled midlands identity), a wee bit smaller, and with a fair bit less jazz. Though I was distraught to leave my favourite northern venues and Leeds’ cracking music scene, I was determined to fill the hole left by the likes of Church, Hyde Park Book Club and The Domino. But, somehow, replicating that Belgrave buzz seemed almost too much to ask…?
Well, turns out Nottingham is more than just Rock City (*gasp*)! That said, the owners have done well to expand their horizons providing the city with its key small-to-medium-sized venues, in the form of Stealth, Rescue Rooms and Bodega. The former being the club to head to for all things dance, techno, UK garage and grime, the latter two acting simultaneously as impressive live venues for touring and local bands, as well as chill bars for a reasonably-priced cocktail or home-brewed ale.
As a rule, if you’re heading east of the city centre into the Hockley area, you’re looking in the right place for arts and music. Once a year in mid-October, every pub, bar and street corner in the area becomes a venue for the delightful Hockey Hustle; a showcase of the local Notts scene.
This year did, however, also feature Leeds’ Tall Talker, fusing math rock, funk and jazz into a uniquely spectacular sound, as well as the duo Sunflower Thieves, for fans of gorgeous harmonies and delicate song writing. The day-long festival hosted a variety of stages, supported by various record labels, creative collectives and local charities essential to Nottingham’s alternative arts and music scene. These included I’m Not From London, so much more than a record label, The Nest Collective and Confetti.
As for your smaller, more intimate venues, The Chameleon Arts Cafe, found down Newcastle Chambers alleyway and up the stairs on the left, is the place to start for local and up and coming arts and music. However if you fancy an acutely raw, cutting-edge venue, you’ll want to head to vegetable-warehouse-turned-DIY-music-and-arts-space, JT Soar.
Also like Leeds, Nottingham’s arts and music scene is forever developing and changing. I’ve head locals reminisce of old venues and bars that are long gone, yet this week I found myself heading to the excellent, newly-opened Metronome for a fantastic BBC Intro East Midlands showcase. There’s no doubt I’ve found myself in a city bursting with local and alternative music, arts and culture aplenty.
The odd trip back up to Leeds is inevitable (I was never going to miss the Pretend launch), but I reckon for the time being, I have plenty to keep me amused right here.